Like his late father, it sometimes seems that Mark Drinkwater can't get away from politics.
He is not running for City Council or mayor, in fact, the restaurateur thought he would make a different life for himself as part owner of a new upscale eatery on Camelback Road in Scottsdale.
The restaurant's name alone — Drinkwater's City Hall Steakhouse — is sort of a tribute to his father, Herb R. Drinkwater, a former Scottsdale councilman and mayor from 1980 to 1996. He died in 1997 at age 61 of cancer.
But the power of the Drinkwater name still resonates, and the irony of one dinner engagement reserved at his restaurant has become dicey for Scottsdale's first family.
Arizona Diamondbacks' star outfielder Luis Gonzalez is scheduled to host an April 10 fund-raiser at the eatery for a group pushing a city-run fire department.
Tickets start at $125.
The Committee to Protect Scottsdale and Our Firefighters collected enough Scottsdale voter signatures to get two ballot measures on a May 20 special election asking voters to replace Rural/Metro Fire Department.
However, Mark Drinkwater's mother, Jackie, and his sister, Jamie Drinkwater Buchanan, are on an opposite side of the election. Both support "Know Enough to Vote No," a group opposed to Propositions 200 and 201.
Proposition 200 asks voters to create a city fire department within six months of approval. Proposition 201 asks voters to create a city department and give job preference to current Rural/Metro fire-fighters in Scottsdale.
A "yes" vote on both measures would replace Scottsdale's 51-year history with Rural/Metro Fire Department. Ambulance service is not included.
"I'm not saying, I'm pro or against this,'' said Mark Drinkwater, 41. "I'm just trying to run a restaurant and not get involved in political issues. I have friends on each side.''
Wednesday morning and five months into the life of Drinkwater's new steakhouse, he received a wake-up call — literally.
"I woke up this morning getting yelled at from my sister,'' he said. "This came as a complete shock. We are going to try to move this.''
Mike Lombardo, director of operations for the restaurant, booked the Gonzalez engagement without knowing its contentious political ties.
"If you were managing a place and didn't know what's going on you'd think you're doing a good thing. He was excited what he did,'' Drinkwater said. "He's feeling terrible here.''
Drinkwater said he planned to meet with his partners, Mastro Group, to possibly move the event to one of their other Scottsdale restaurants. But the likelihood of that happening looks slim, Mark said.
If the party can't be transferred, Drinkwater — in his father's spirit of making peace — said he will offer the "Know Enough to Vote No" group a chance to have an event at the restaurant, too. But, it'll be the last of its kind.
"I don't want to be involved in political or controversial issues. I'm just a businessman,'' he said.
Luckily, Drinkwater's mother also is taking the issue in stride. They exchanged a few calls, and she's sticking by her son's decision.
"I support my son in whatever he's doing on this,'' Jackie Drinkwater said. "I know it's been bothersome and hard for him.'' Jackie couldn't help but laugh. She told of her son observing the political scene and voting in local elections, but always being "on the outside.''
"Campaigning and stuff. We used to make him go around with us door to door," she said. "Oh, God, he just hated it. But, he'd pass out brochures for his dad.''
Just remember, she said, that "at Drinkwater's City Hall, you get to hear both sides.''